Removing one’s shoes is a deeply rooted tradition across many Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. Every visitor to a Japanese home, for example, will leave their shoes inside a genkan—a kind of porch with a raised border intended to prevent any negative ki (the equivalent of chi, or energy) from entering. The genkan also acts as a psychological gateway between the outside and inside worlds: As well as a mark of respect for the host, removing one’s shoes is symbolic of leaving one’s worries—as well as germs—at the door.

A World of Difference

  • Photography Xiaopeng Yuan
  • Styling Zinn Zhou
  • Words John Ovans

A fun lesson in cultural faux pas.

Issue 49

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Arts & Culture, Fashion

  • Photography Xiaopeng Yuan
  • Styling Zinn Zhou
  • Words John Ovans

SHOES OFF

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